December Discussion – Imposter Syndrome

by Ella Gibson

In December, NMRT facilitated a discussion on ALA Connect about Imposter Syndrome and the impact that it’s played in peoples educational and professional aspirations. The conversation brought up many great points and demonstrated how pervasive this feeling can be amongst early career professionals in many different capacities.

Not Feeling Qualified

Whether or not you’re a student or a professional, many of us seem to feel inadequate or underqualified at various points. Many members addressed instances of starting a new position or career when imposter syndrome hit hard. This can be a really trying time because you want to prove that you’re capable but difficult when you’re second guessing every action or decision you’re making. It didn’t seem to matter what type of library either – the feeling of being an imposter in a new role had people thinking they might be an imposter. Many discussion participants identified the feelings starting in school while some NMRT members who are students shared experiences of how imposter syndrome holds them back in terms of large projects or voicing their ideas.

Where Does Imposter Syndrome Come From?

Many participants felt that their sense of imposter syndrome seemed to have built over time. Different moments of self-doubt culminating in feelings as though they don’t belong in the spot they are in. Some participants framed imposter syndrome by identifying that they might be their own harshest critic and that overcoming that mindset can be difficult. Others notice it more when their compare themselves to their peers. There’s no concrete point to identify where imposter syndrome developed, but instead is distinctive to every individual.   

“Trickster Syndrome”: Reframing How You Think

Changing how you think can be difficult, especially when you’re attempting to quell negative thoughts with positive ones. One participant in this month’s discussion brought up a unique way of reframing how someone can think about imposter syndrome by reimagining it as trickster syndrome. In this mindset the discussion participant discussed how the person feeling like the imposter instead starts focusing on the fact that their actions and accomplishments are tricking those around them into thinking that they belong. As a step in the direction of thinking more positively about one’s capabilities, this mindset could be a good stepping stone for someone trying to engage in that more positive thinking while some of that self-double still lingers.

Remember: You Aren’t Alone!

One thing this December’s discussion highlighted was that imposter syndrome can affect everyone. No matter your background, qualifications, achievements, or any combination of such it seems as though imposter syndrome can creep its way into your life. For those feeling like an imposter it can be helpful to remember you aren’t alone. Whether you talk to colleagues, classmates, other NMRT members, or anyone else remember there are people feeling similarly and you don’t have to feel like you’re are going through that struggle alone. Maintaining communication and building networks of support can be beneficial to those feeling like an imposter. Trying your best to be honest about those feelings and recognizing that you aren’t alone in feeling that way can be a helpful way to move forward.

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